NIH-Specific Issues

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Office of Sponsored Programs

NIH-Specific Issues

NIH Specific Issues in GRANTS.GOV Submission

Applying to NIH through is more complicated than applications to other agencies.  Here are some major differences NIH applicants should be aware of:

  • You must be registered with a user name in the NIH Commons in order to apply.  Your Sponsored Program Administrator (SPA) can verify your user status and register you.
  • The PI’s Commons User ID must be entered onto the Senior/Key Person Form in the field credential/agency login.  THIS FIELD IS NOT HIGHLIGHTED IN YELLOW Hopefully that will be fixed for future competitions.
  • There are now distinct application packages for each of the standard NIH funding mechanisms, (R01, R03, K award, etc).  You can find them all here.
  • If you respond to an RFA, follow the link within the RFA (also known in lingo as a Funding Opportunity Announcement or FOA) to find the forms specific to the announcement.
  • NIH still requires each collaborating/subcontracting to submit a separate detailed budget on NIH Budget forms.  These forms are embedded within each individual application package and require the additional step of extracting the forms from the package and emailing them to your collaborator.
  • A signed face page from each subcontractor is no longer a required component of the proposalsubmission.  However, a signed face sheet or letter of commitment from an authorized institutional official agreeing to participate in the project and carry out all programmatic, fiscal and regulatory requirements must be received and retained by OSP during the internal approval process.  PIs will want to include such a letter as an appendix to the proposal in any case.
  • In the absence of a physical letter, we will accept an email from an institutional official with a subcontract budget and justification attached.
  • Indirect Costs are no longer included on a checklist page.  Each subcontractor will include an indirect cost line within its budget.  On projects where TC is the lead, our budget will include a line for indirect costs from each of our collaborators in addition to the line for our own IDC. 

Avoiding problems at submission time:

  • is, at least theoretically, completely integrated with the NIH Commons.  Information in a application is checked against information on file in the Commons at submission.  Discrepancies between the data in each system can lead to errors, most of which, unfortunately, cannot be foreseen prior to submission.
  • Once we submit a proposal, we receive a series of emails, first from confirming the proposal was submitted and a second confirming it meets submission standards and has been forward to the agency for retrieval.  Then we receive a confirmation that the agency has retrieved the proposal and finally an email that either gives us an agency tracking number or informs us of errors in the submission.
  • Commons error messages contain either ERRORS, which must be corrected immediately before the proposal can be reviewed, or WARNINGS, which indicate minor discrepancies between the application and our institutional or PI profiles in the Commons.  WARNINGS do not need to be corrected prior to review, but may require clarification during the review or award stage.
  • ERRORS that are not corrected prior to the deadline date and time will result in a LATE submission.  This is the main reason we need to be firm on the “12noon day before funder’s deadline” internal deadline.  Proposals with errors corrected after 5 pm on the deadline date may still be accepted, but we will need to add a letter explaining why the proposal is late.